Monday, June 21

Apology FOR Maradona?

Typically, it is Argentine great Diego Maradona in the position of 'needing' to apologize for his latest situation, whether it be for the team's performance on the field or for the latest event in his headline-making personal life activities.

Ironically, it appears that the media and Argentine fans are now in the position of needing to apologize to him after what Maradona's side has done, along with other results and events around the tournament.

Argentina has won twice with five goals for and one against through two games. But more importantly, the other four South American sides are unbeaten through two games (Chile's match pending) for a total record of 7-0-2 (W-L-D) for the continent. Maybe, just maybe, Argentina's struggles in qualifying were due to the fact that all the teams they were competing against were good too. Uruguay, who had to qualify via a playoff against Costa Rica, is 1-0-1 with three goals for and none against. The Netherlands and Portugal are the only other teams through two games who have not been scored upon.

In comparison, the 'host' African teams have been struggling and the European sides have not exactly been blazing through the competition. Spain lost to Switzerland. Germany were stunned by Serbia. Italy was shocked by New Zealand for a draw. And England, held for two draws in poor performances.

And then there is France. If there were odds heading into the tournament which team would find itself in off-the-field disarray, Argentina would probably have been the most likely to be the winners with all the pre-tournament Argentina preview discussions partially centering on Maradona being crazy. Well, the three-ring circus is featuring the French instead.

Is this the end of French dominance? Team captain Patrice Evra said they are now a "small football nation" after the 2-0 loss to Mexico. The debacle that has ensued off the field is the third act for a nation now becoming a regular around the world footballing headlines for bizarre events. The first was the infamous Zinedine Zidane headbutt in the championship game of the last World Cup. The second was the notorious Thierry Henry handball that put France through to the tournament instead of Ireland, which would have had a chance to qualify had the contest continued to penalty kicks. The drama now seems to have engulfed the entire organization.

Update: Another game, another South American victory as Chile tops the Swiss, 1-0, to pick up their second win. That makes the continent 8-0-2 for the tournament with all five teams leading their groups.

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